The Australian government announced it would cut childcare benefits to families who refuse to vaccinate their children, effectively taking $11,400 per child out of the pockets of parents.
Though Australia has a child immunization rate of over 90 percent, there has been an uptick in the number of unvaccinated children under the age of seven—jumping from 15,000 to 39,000 in the past decade. The new law will create a financial disincentive to halt the trend, and tighten existing exemptions for parents who oppose vaccinations due to personal, philosophical or religious reasons.
“This is essentially a ‘no jab, no pay’ policy from this Government,” said Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott. “It’s a very important public health announcement, it’s a very important measure to keep our children and our families as safe as possible.”
The announcement has received widespread support from organizations, including The Australian Medical Association and Early Childhood Australia, although experts say the move won’t substantially increase vaccination rates, and that education and increased clinic hours should also be a focus.
The initiative is expected to go into effect on January 1, 2016.